MarQueis Gray Adjusts to New Position

In college, MarQueis Gray had 150 completions for the University of Minnesota.

However, at Friday's 49ers minicamp session, Gray didn't attempt a single pass.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound athlete isn't playing under center any more. In San Francisco, Gray has been moved to halfback in the 49ers offense.

"I never thought I'd be a tight end or h-back," Gray said on Saturday.

The versatile athlete played in 47 games for the Golden Gophers, making 26 starts at both quarterback and wide receiver. Gray threw for 2,053 yards with 14 touchdowns – rushed for 1,731 yards with 12 rushing touchdowns – and caught 60 passes for 766 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The final stat category will be most important in the undrafted player's bid to make the 49ers roster.

Gray is now wearing No. 46 and is looking to fill the do-it-all role previously held by Delanie Walker, a versatile talent who signed with Tennessee in free agency. Gray figured he'd have a jack-of-all-trades position in the NFL, but he wasn't sure it would be as a halfback.

"I got a sense of it after the season when I went to the Texas vs. the Nation game and (scouts) wanted to see me as a standup type of tight end," Gray said.

The first day at the position wasn't a breeze for Gray, but it wasn't a complete let-down either.

"It's very hard," he said, "but you've just got to stay in the playbook and overcome adversity."

Route-running isn't foreign to Gray, but in-line blocking will be the biggest hurdle to overcome.

"Blocking and terminology being up front with the big guys – that's the biggest part of being a tight end," he said.

Gray spent time doing blocking drills during individual periods on Friday and when it came time to run routes, the former Minnesota play-maker had a "sigh of relief." Even so, Gray is focused on learning the offense just like he did as a quarterback for Minnesota. He's also intent on improving his strength to handle the blocking responsibilities that come with playing on the line of scrimmage.

"At this level, you're playing with the best athletes in the world," Gray said. "You've got to have the strength and the confidence to make plays and it starts with the playbook and the weight room."

Gray is keeping a positive outlook on his early transition. It will be challenging at times, but Gray knows preparation and determination will help set him apart as he competes for a spot on San Francisco's roster.

"We're all out here competing and having fun," Gray said. "We also know we're professionals now. This is a job. We're out here competing for our job and you've got to keep that in the back of your head.

"When you get off the field, you need to stay in the playbook as much as you can."

It also helps that Gray isn't the only former quarterback trying on new positions with the 49ers. Seventh-round pick B.J. Daniels, a quarterback out of South Florida, fielded kick-offs at Friday's camp practice.

"Any way we can help make this team better and at least make this team, we're all for it," Gray said.

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